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Members of the public explain why they waited for hours to see Trump arraigned: "This is historic"

Trump pleads not guilty to federal charges
Trump pleads not guilty at federal arraignment 09:47

Just seven members of the general public, as well as a couple dozen reporters, were allowed into the courtroom during former President Donald Trump's arraignment on 37 federal felony charges

They waited for hours, unsure if they'd be able to witness the proceeding in person. They entered the courthouse 8:30 a.m. ET, waiting without phones or other devices until after the hearing ended after 3 p.m. ET. Several said they were drawn by the history of the moment.

Raj Abhyanker, a lawyer from California, happened to be in town for his daughter's high school basketball tournament, and decided to "see history." Wearing a T-shirt and shorts, he said he watches big trials frequently — such as that of Elizabeth Holmes — and even took his daughter, who wants to be a lawyer, to part of a local double murder trial.

"I had the day free and the former president's here getting arraigned. It's unprecedented history," Abhyanker said.

Former President Trump Is Arraigned On Federal Espionage Charges
Members of the media wait outside the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. United States Federal Courthouse where former President Donald Trump is set to appear in front of a judge on June 13, 2023, in Miami, Florida.  Alon Skuy / Getty Images

He said he thought the indictment was "very detailed, and particularly well laid out." About the audio recordings detailed in the indictment, Abhyanker said, "It goes right into the best evidence they had."

"It just seems like the guy [Trump] is going to have a very tough time," he said. He added that he believes Trump's New York criminal case is weaker, "more bare bones."

After the hearing, Abhyanker said he thought it was interesting that the judge "pushed back on not having a blanket no-condition-based bail bond."

Instead, Trump signed a personal surety bond with a special condition barring him from discussing the case with certain potential witnesses who prosecutors will soon list for the defense. That includes his aide Walt Nauta, who was charged in the indictment with six counts of conspiracy, making false statements and withholding documents.

Lazaro Ecenarro, a Trump supporter wearing a Make America Great Again hat, also said he was drawn to the courthouse by the significance of the moment.

"This is historic," Ecenarro said. "What we're witnessing is historic, but at the same time it's embarrassing because it makes us a laughingstock internationally."

"I'm worried about him," Ecenarro said, referring to Trump. "And I'm worried about our country."

After the arraignment, Ecenarro said Trump looked, "serious" and noted Trump had his arms folded much of the time. Ecenarro said special counsel Jack Smith, whose investigation led the Justice Department to charge Trump, was accompanied by a dozen or so other prosecutors, while Trump had two lawyers. He said he was "worried about Trump, and worried about the country."  

Florida attorney Alan Weisberg was another lawyer who said he decided to see "a very important event."

As a young lawyer in Washington, D.C., he attended the Watergate burglars trial and a related Senate hearing. 

He called the indictment "very well crafted."

"I think it tells a very good story," Weissberg said.

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